The Vaigai is a river in Madurai,Tamil Nadu state of southern India. The actual name is Vaiyai in Tamil and the name has been referred as vaigai. It originates in the Periyar Plateau of the Western Ghats range, and flows northeast through the Kambam Valley, which lies between the Palni Hills to the north and the Varushanad Hills to the south. The Vattaparai Falls are located on this river. As it rounds the eastern corner of the Varushanad Hills, the river turns southeast, running through the region of Pandya Nadu. Madurai, the largest city in the Pandya Nadu region and its ancient capital, lies on the Vaigai. The river empties into the Palk Strait in Ramanathapuram District. fdf The main tributaries of the river Vaigai are, the river Suruliyaru, the river Mullaiyaaru, the river Varaganadi and the river Manajalaru. All these rivers join with the great Vaigai river nearer to the places around the Vaigai Dam which is situated in Theni district.
Vaigai gets major feed from the Periyar Dam in Kumuli in Kerala. As the Kerala government is refusing to increase the storage level, Vaigai river ends up dry very often. The water never reaches Madurai, let alone flowing into places past Madurai.
The Periyar Dam was built in 1895 by John Pennycuick, who implemented a plan proposed over a century earlier by Pradani Muthirulappa Pillai of Ramnad.
"Greater than the mother bearing child/Greater than the child that is born/Every breath is Periyar/Every word is Periyar/In every place, in all the world/As far as Periyar water flows/Your name will stand-Pennycuick-your name/Though written on water, will always stand".
That is how Anthony Muthu Pillai (1863-1929) had paid tributes in Tamil to John Pennycuick, the engineer who had taken up the "audacious and unprecedented feat of...engineering" for transferring some water from the Periyar river in Travancore State to the Vaigai basin in Madras Presidency. This basin was described by Poet and lyricist Vairamuthu, who hails from this area: "It is a different world. Another planet on the surface of the earth. Ignored by the clouds, cursed by nature and dry land, passed by the Gods with their eyes tightly shut...